Rafael Nadal's winning streak in Barcelona is ended by Nicolas Almagro

Rafael Nadal comes to terms with defeat in Barcelona as his 41-match winning streak ends

Story highlights

  • Rafael loses his first match at the Barcelona Open in 11 years
  • His winning run of 41 matches and eight titles ends in quarter-finals
  • Fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro powers to 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4 win
  • In Stuttgart, defending champion Maria Sharapova reaches last four

Rafael Nadal's 11-year reign in Barcelona is over.

The world No.1 lost his first match at the Barcelona Open since 2003 as he was knocked out by fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals.

Almagro, a clay court specialist ranked 20th in the world, saw off Nadal in an intense 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4 victory lasting nearly three hours.

"I had difficulties in the first set and struggled with Nadal's shots," Almagro told reporters in Barcelona.

"I started to hit harder and play more aggressively as the match continued, especially when I had the wind in my back."

Nadal, who lost in the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals to David Ferrer last week, had last been beaten in Barcelona when he was just 15 years old.

Rafael Nadal: Comeback was difficult

    Just Watched

    Rafael Nadal: Comeback was difficult

Rafael Nadal: Comeback was difficult 02:35
PLAY VIDEO
French tennis flying high

    Just Watched

    French tennis flying high

French tennis flying high 06:23
PLAY VIDEO
Teen sensation with the X factor

    Just Watched

    Teen sensation with the X factor

Teen sensation with the X factor 04:02
PLAY VIDEO

He had been invincible on Barcelona's clay courts, winning 41 straight matches and eight titles.

But Nadal was philosophical in defeat, saying in his post-match media conference: "I played better than him in the first two sets but I didn't make use of my opportunities.

"This is sport. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Tennis is like this. Now I need to start fighting and thinking about Madrid.

"I can only congratulate Nico now."

Amagro goes on to face Colombian Santiago Giraldo while Latvia's Ernest Gulbis faces Japan's Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals Saturday.

Nadal turns to his preparations for the Madrid Open, which begins on 4th May, as his next tune up for the French Open.

The second grand slam of the season, which the 27-year-old has won a record eight times, begins on 25th May.

After his defeat in Barcelona, Nadal paid tribute to the former coach of the city's football team Tito Vilanova, who died Friday.

"Tennis is just a game," said Nadal. "What really matters today is Tito Vilanova. I want to send all my support and wishes to his family in this sad moment."

Read: Former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova dies

In Stuttgart, Maria Sharapova cemented her place in the semi-finals -- and the world's top 10 -- with victory over Agnieszka Radwanska.

Sharapova dispatched the top seed and world No.3 64 63 to stay on course for her third straight victory at the indoor clay court event.

Defeat to Radwanska, who was in Fed Cup action for Poland last weekend, would have seen her drop out of the top-10 for the first time in three years.

"It's a big win for me," Sharapova told reporters in Stuttgart. "Probably the biggest since my injury."

Sharapova was out of action for much of the second half of last season with a right shoulder problem.

Her semi-final opponent is Italy's Sara Errani, who advanced as Carla Suarez Navarro retired with a wrist injury with their match poised at one set all.

The other semi-final sees the battle of former world number ones Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.

Read: Nadal suffers shock Monte Carlo defeat

Read: Novak Djokovic to become a father

      Tennis

    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.